Oregon Republicans Take Ball, Go Home, Throw Away Ball, Get Wins For Rest Of Season, Demand Payment For Ball They Stole And Games They Didn't Play, And Get It
Last week, all 11 Republicans in the Oregon state Senate walked out and hid across state lines in an attempt to kill HB 2020, which would put in place a cap and trade system to reduce carbon emissions. (As the bill number might suggest to you keen readers, it had already passed the state House.) Tuesday, the Democratic president of the Senate announced there weren't enough votes to pass HB 2020 anyway, so would Rs please come back and pass other bills, like a budget, before the official end of the session on June 30?
So far, the Republicans don't appear willing to do that either, so we imagine Senate President Peter Courtney will now have to ask pretty please, and maybe promise to give the Republicans a nice apology for having caused them all that trouble. Hell of a way to run a supermajority.
Courtney's announcement, which came without any warning to Senate Democrats, sure had all the characteristics of a sincere, spontaneous hostage statement:
What I'm about to say, I say of my own free will. No one has told me to say this [...] House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor. That will not change.
A bunch of young supporters of the climate bill stood up in the Senate gallery and turned their backs on Courtney, how uncivil.
Tuesday afternoon, the Oregonian reported that Courtney may not have caved so much as simply realized the votes weren't there, even if two Republicans had shown up to allow a quorum:
There may not have been enough Democrats in favor of the bill, with or without the presence of the Republicans. Courtney said he could not line up the 16 necessary votes in his 18-member caucus, and Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick and House Speaker Tina Kotek backed him up on that point.
Reporter Hillary Borrud explained on the Twitter machine that it wasn't clear until Tuesday that there just weren't enough Dem votes to pass the bill, noting that "Supporters of the climate bill and some Dems wanted a vote even if it was iffy," since there was at least a possibility that being forced to go on the record might have shaken loose one of the three Senate Democrats who ultimately opposed the bill. The Oregonian splainered that while two Dems had gone on record as opposing HB 2020, a third pretty much flipflopped because she worried the bill would be bad for her district's biggest employer, Boeing.
Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, was pushing for more concessions to offset the impact of the bill on electricity costs for Boeing, a large employer in her district. Monnes Anderson's staff declined to comment Tuesday. Brad Reed, a spokesman for the environmental group Renew Oregon, said the senator "told us she was a 'yes,'" but three well-placed Capitol sources affiliated with Democrats confirmed Monnes Anderson was the third hold-out.
Also, the two other Senate Dems who helped sink the carbon pricing bill "are the only Democrats in Oregon's senate who've taken money from Koch Industries" -- albeit a puny $1000 each. Both also have a fairly large donor base among the timber industry. Say, was that a trio of primary challenges we just heard? If you really want to have a good vomit, go read Oregonian environmental reporter Rob Davis's series "Polluted by Money," about how Oregon went from being one of the greenest states to having some of the worst environmental laws in the Northwest.
So far, there's no indication the Republicans have any intention of returning from playing hooky across state lines so they can pass any of the over 100 bills still needing action, so Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, will likely have to call a special session in July, if only to get a full state budget passed.
For their part, the Republicans say they're wary of returning to Salem, because what if those tricksy Democrats go and pull a switcheroo?
"I still have caucus members who are worried if it's on the floor, it'll get called up and, boom, it's passed," Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, said by phone late Tuesday afternoon. "Unfortunately we've been told a lot of things this session that didn't happen. The trust element is extremely low right now."
Uh huh. If there's one thing we're sympathetic to, it's a Republican fretting about the other side dealing in bad faith.
Oh, and while they've got the state government over a leaky barrel of toxic sludge, the R's have also decided they want a whole bunch MORE legislative concessions, to give them an incentive to please come back and do the very basic job they're supposed to. Also, they're very very concerned that state Senate leadership may actually enforce the $500 per day fine against the 11 Republicans who went AWOL a week ago. Is that even fair? After all, both sides played a part here: Republicans by walking out, and Democrats by bringing up a bill Republicans really objected to. Dropping those fines, which are taken out of senators' pay, would do a lot to restore Republicans' faith in the institution they have no interest in showing up for.
Even if the climate legislation is dead for this session, Gov. Brown and Democrats supporting HB 2020 say they intend to try again -- probably through trickery. We'd like to suggest Oregon voters help the process along in 2020 by shitcanning 11 Republicans and three Democrats in the state Senate. Heck, with the state's vote-by-mail system, they won't even have to go out in the rain to do it.
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